President David Granger: Vice President Carl Greenidge, performing the duties of the Office of the Prime Minister; Honourable Minister of State; Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier George Lewis; outgoing Chief of Staff, Brigadier Mark Phillips; senior officers; relatives of the Chiefs of Staff; ladies and gentlemen; members of the media:
The Defence Board in accordance with the Defence Act Chapter 15:01 has responsibility and I quote,
“…Under the general authority of the Minister; the command, discipline and administration of, and all other matters relating to the Force. The responsibility of the Defence Board shall not extend to the operational use of the Force for which use, responsibility shall be vested in the Chief of Staff; subject to the general or special directions of the Minister.”
That is the law. The Defence Board has functions entirely within the ambit of the law. The Defence Force in accordance with the Defence Act shall be charged with and I quote, “The defence of, or maintenance of order in Guyana and with such other duties as may from time to time be defined by the Defence Board.”
So ladies and gentlemen, you can see the importance and supremacy of the Defence Board. The Board deliberated, the Board discussed and the Board decided on the retirement of Brigadier Mark Phillips, the fittest person to be appointed the position of Chief of Staff is Colonel George Allan Lewis.
The Board is confident that Brigadier Lewis is the most senior and best qualified officer to perform the functions of the high office of Chief of Staff. He enlisted in the force as an Officer Cadet on 1st September, 1981 and was commissioned after attending the Standard Officers Course No.11 on 25th August, 1982.
The Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force therefore, has an unambiguous mandate within the law to apply his military education, his military expertise and his military experience to protect the citizens and to defend the territorial integrity of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana in accordance with the Defence Act, under the authority of the Defence Board and in accordance with the directives of the Minister.
I have the honour therefore, this morning, to congratulate Brigadier George Lewis on behalf of the Guyana Defence Board, on his promotion and on his appointment to the position of Chief of Staff.
I have the honour also to thank Brigadier Mark Phillips on behalf of the Defence Board, for his service as Chief of Staff from August 2013 to October 2016. He enlisted in the force as an Officer Cadet on 22nd December, 1980 and was commissioned on 17th February, 1982 after attending the Officer Cadet training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom.
The Defence Board is satisfied, most recently, with Brigadier Phillips’s conduct of exercises, GREEN HEART and HOME GUARD with his administrative preparedness and with the operational readiness of the Guyana Defence Force during his triennium from 2013-2016.
Once again I thank Brigadier Mark Philips and congratulate Brigadier George Lewis.